I like to think about knowledge as a vast ocean. It consists of countless “things” or “droplets”, which fall into one of the following buckets:
The Things I Know
The Things I Know that I Don’t Know
The Things I Don’t Know that I Don’t Know
According to phys.org, humankind is able to store at least 295 exabytes of information. (Yes, that’s a number with 20 zeroes in it.) That’s 315 times the number of grains of sand in the world!
As you may infer, every bucket is smaller than the next one. And very often, knowledge droplets fall into the third category. It happens with most of the information in the world: you don’t even know what you don’t know.
This leaves us in a difficult situation. We aren’t aware of our ignorance. Normally, when we think about learning, we understand it as moving droplets from the second bucket to the first. In reality, it’s just as important to move droplets from the third to the second one! Because how can I improve my skills if I don’t even know what I need to learn?
Here’s a personal story about how I boosted my “second-bucket” learning.
When I decided to move to Austin, I remember having a fuzzy picture of it. People had told me that the startup scene was getting big and that the food was awesome. However, now that I’m a month in, I’ve gotten much more out of it. In retrospect, I find it difficult to imagine how I could have gotten this information, have I not made the decision to jump on a plane and get going. To be honest, I didn’t know where I was going to stay the first night (ended up in an Airbnb). I had packed lightly and was ready to embrace uncertainty. I became like a sponge, absorbing activities, patterns of behavior, knowledge, and ideas.
Within three weeks, with the help of wonderful people, I can already manage to get anywhere in the city by bike, without using a GPS, and have countless insights to share with you.
We are not a mere droplet in the sea. We are much more than that. Be a traveling droplet. Be curious. Embrace the continuous search for knowledge.
You are the sole responsible for choosing your environment. Learn fast. Travel. Never settle.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore” ~ Andre Gide